As a designer, at some point you’ll need to ask for feedback on your logo designs.
As a client you might also want to collect feedback on designs that have been created for you in order to make the best decision.
Designers will be presenting work to clients, or sharing ideas with fellow designers individually, or to design communities to seek honest feedback that will help elevate their design skills.
Having run the Logo Geek Facebook Community for around 3 years now, I’ve seen designers present their work well, and… designers who have presented badly too.
In contrast, I’ve also worked worked with clients of who have shared the logo I’ve designed for them with friends and family, and I’ve see what happens when that’s not done the right way… as a client you can be left confused, and as a designer it can become a nightmare of endless revisions… all around it’s frustrating.
Thankfully I can help, so I hope this blog and supporting podcast (linked above) will help both designers, and business owners who have had a logo designed for them.
Avoid Subjective Feedback
The main thing we want to avoid in every scenario is subjective feedback, and I feel that starts with how you present designs to your client, or how you approach asking friends or family for feedback on a design.
The first thing I want to stress… it doesn’t matter what they think.
What someone thinks about your logo design is irrelevant.
With any area of design, NEVER ask anyone what they think of a design.
This probably sounds like strong works, so I’ll explain so you understand.
Why you never ask what people think of your logo design
With any area of design, especially logo design, we’re not creating a piece of art.
We’re creating a functional piece of design.
An object that is carefully designed to capture an aesthetic that represents the business… An object that’s designed to compete with a specific range of companies, products or services… An object that’s carefully designed to attract a very specific audience.
On top of that, with logo design in particular there’s a technical side too. For example, the logo needs to be versatile, so to work effectively as a tiny social media icon, on a website, on a building, on clothing, vehicles… products… the list goes on. That means the logo needs to be legible, and sufficiently simple too.
So my point is… a logo, and anything else that’s “designed”, has been created with intent to perform a specific task.
If you’re good at what you do, every single element of a design has been carefully thought through.
There’s a reason for every line. Every curve. Every colour… the personality of it, and the detail, or lack of it.
If you ask someone what they think… they’ll tell you what THEY think, and in most cases, as everyone has an opinion, the feedback and thoughts you receive will rarely be helpful to you, unless they have inside knowledge as to your goals.
The feedback received when asking someones personal opinion is most likely to be subjective opinions. It’s personal to them as it’s what they think! As I’ve hopefully made clear, what they think personally is irrelevant.
Presenting your designs to avoid subjective feedback
The help understand why we should never ask what people think, here’s a nice example that I use frequently to get my point across to the average person.
Imagine I put down a stapler on the desk in front of you. What do you think of the stapler?
You pick up the stapler… tell me what you think?
I know you’ll have something to say. You’ll have things you like, and things you don’t like.
I’m thinking to myself, “Blacks boring… I’d prefer a blue one. I don’t like how mechanical it feels. I don’t really like the shape. I’d prefer if it a bit smaller.”
So by asking “what do you think”, you’ve come away with personal subjective opinions. Ask a group of people what they think and you’ll get endless opinions.
This sadly happens in the design world. You’ve asked your client, friend, family member what they think of the think of the design you spent hours on… and… you got a list of things they do and don’t like.
Sadly a lot of designers will listen and make the updates. Nightmare situation right?
We want to avoid that situation, so for comparison I’m going to present the stapler to you in a different way, and for the sake of this exercise I’m going to pretend that you requested that I design this for you.
So I hold the stapler up to you… and start a little presentation…
“Based on our original discussion you required a device that could permanently clip multiple pieces of paper together. You needed it to be low cost, and to be manufactured on a mass scale.
What I’m presenting to you today is the solution. I’ve created a device that sits comfortably in your hand. I’ve added a spring loaded mechanism so that staples can easily be installed in 2 steps – look at how easy they slide in. We’ve used a black plastic, which is low cost and gender neutral so ideal for a wide audience. I’ve also carefully designed the shape so that it can be massed produced with no issues.
As you can see, this effectively meets the goals discussed at the start of the process. Can I have your sign off to proceed to production?”
In that case, you have no choice but to agree, because I have achieved the goals. That’s what business owners care about… the goals. Their strategy, and how the product you’ve designed achieves that.
I bet even you – the non business person… I bet you was listening to my presentation nodding along, agreeing with what I was saying.
I’ve presented the work by reverting back to the project goals… the challenges faced, and how I’ve been able to solve them effectively.
So when you present in that way you’ll either get a yes.. or… because we’ve focused on goal fulfilment, you will be provided with very clear, objective feedback that will improve the product.
By presenting the work in a different way, the conversation is very different. It’s gone from one where everyone’s sharing their own personal opinions, to an intelligent discussion that’s based on goals… based on business targets, and strategic decisions. The feedback I’m receiving is actually helpful, for me and my client.
So… to stress… As a designer, or a client looking for feedback on a logo… never ask, “what do you think”.
Asking a friend for feedback
Of course, the stapler example mentioned above is very specific to presenting your work. What if you are simply asking a friend, family member, or community of people for feedback on your logo?
Well… the same principle applies. You need to provide context. Like with the stapler example, you need to explain what you’re aiming to do, how you’ve solved it, and ask if you’ve effectively solved the challenges set out.
If people know your goals, they will help you achieve them. That means you’ll get quality feedback.
When asking for feedback, you’ll get even more high quality responses if you’re very specific with the feedback you’re looking for.
Focus on getting feedback on one area of the identity design. That way you’ll get feedback on the specific areas you need help with, and… it helps people focus on the area you want to discuss, so they’ll be more likely to help you.
When working with clients who are seeking feedback, I recommend them to ask their target audience very specific questions.
For example, if we have 2 options, we want to avoid asking anyone which one they prefer… as that’s as subjective as asking what they think. We don’t care about subjective opinions.
We want to ask questions based on the goals of the project.
- Which of these designs best represents a forward thinking accounting business?
- Which of these logos feel the most premium to you?
- How much would you expect each of these companies to cost?
- Which of these companies feel the most friendly and approachable to you?
- Which of these 2 logos feels like a small, trusted organisation?
…there’s endless questions you could ask, but if they are all geared towards the goals of the project you will receive helpful, constructive and useful information that will help you to make the most effective decision.
Getting feeding from the design community
If you’re asking a mass audience for feedback, like that of the logo geek community… where 8000 logo designers hang out online, your approach will be similar to that already described, but I feel it’s a little more complex and worth discussing.
Again avoid asking what people think. Just delete that sentence from your vocabulary as it will cause you problems that you can live without. I repeat as it’s important.
Just because you’re speaking to a community of designers doesn’t change the situation. Everyone… no matter who it is will have a personal opinion, and those opinions are mostly irrelevant to you.
You need to be sure to ask specific questions, and provide context.
You need to ensure everyone is aware of the problem you are trying to solve, and that will encourage clear, objective and helpful feedback.
Even then, you’ll probably still get subjective opinions…
That’s sadly the nature of large crowds of people. But ignore the subjective feedback. It’s hard to I know, but… you need to weed those out as it’s not helpful… as I’ve mentioned multiple times, subjective feedback is irrelevant.
Any designer providing subjective feedback on a design is amateur – it’s not helpful to them, and not helpful to the person who receives the feedback either. They deserve to be (politely) ignored.
If no context is provided, which sadly happens a lot online… a good designer will ask questions to understand the goals, and they’ll always provide feedback based on what you’re aiming to do. If you see another designer not giving feedback in that way… make it your job to politely remind them.
And if you are one of those who will give feedback without any form of information – stop doing it, and start asking questions to understand the goals so you can be genuinely helpful. Yes, you can provide feedback on the overall execution, but how do you know if the design is even right and worth the time to perfect, polish and refine? Be helpful, or don’t comment.
So going back to asking for feedback…
If you’ve asked a community a specific question, you can filter through all the responses that provide constrictive feedback based on your question. Anything subjective can be passed by as it’s not helpful to you.
In the logo geek community there are designers, and individuals who have an interest in design, at all ages, skillsets and from different cultures and background. It’s the same in any online community. For that reason don’t give too much weight to any feedback… if you did you could feel overwhelmed and confused. Just the feedback that’s objective and helps you to better fulfil the brief.
Everyone has the right to an opinion, but spend time to learn to get to know who to trust. Look at their work, and make your own decision. Choose who you’ll listen to, who you can trust… and in comparison, who you can politely ignore.
If you just accept that everyone has a voice, and that not all feedback received on a post to a mass audience will be helpful to you you’ll get the most amount of value from the feedback you receive without feeling too overwhelmed.
The mass volume of feedback you receive in communities can put off some people posting, which I understand. So if that’s you, find a few individuals you trust. But still approach asking for feedback in the same way as already explained. You can thankfully still find those people in the logo geek community.
How do I create goals in order to ask the right questions?
I know there might be some people that read this that will struggle to take on board the approach discussed above because they have no goals to work with. They simply lack the information needed.
So what do you need to do to get that information?
Well… it falls back to what you need to do BEFORE working on any design work.
You need to ask questions in order to create a logo design brief. You need to understand the challenges faced.
With logo design specifically there’s 4 key areas I like to know about: The business, the competition, the target audience, and lastly, and not everyone will agree with this…. but, I find it beneficial to know and understand any expectations your client has.
Below are the questions I like to ask:
- What is the name of your company?
- Do you have a company tag-line or slogan?
- What product(s) or service(s) does your business provide?
- If you are not a new business start-up, what are the reasons you want a new logo
- Is there a unique story behind your business?
- Where do you see your business/service in 5 years time?
- Where will your new logo be used?
- Who are your main competitors?
- What differentiates you from your competitors?
- Why should your audience choose you over the competition?
- Who is your target audience?
- Describe your ideal customer.
- What is the overall message you want to convey to your target audience?
- What words do you want your audience to associate with your company?
Preferences and Expectations.
As mentioned above I find it useful to know your clients preferences and expectations.
Whilst this is somewhat irrelevant to the overall performance of the design, as the individual is the decision maker, it’s beneficial to know this information.
By knowing this information up-front, in the event the ideas and opinions are completely off the mark, you can discuss them before you begin to steer your client in a different direction if it’s appropriate to do so.
Ignoring their expectations however could be the difference between getting the design agreed or not.
But… Imagine working on your own business for the past 10 years. A new logo is something you might have dreamed of for years. It’s exciting! Some people will have a specific idea in mind, and I think it’s rude as a designer to ignore it. At least explore the idea, or find a way to make it work so their dream can come true.
So questions I ask to help understand clients expectations and tastes include:
- What brands or logos, regardless of industry capture a similar look and feel that you are going for?
- Are there any fonts, colours or images/icons that you would like to be used in the logo?
- Are there any that you would like to be avoided?
By knowing all this information you can make informed choices. You can then present based on this information too. And, more importantly, you can ask for feedback based on this criteria too.
It will mean your designs will be agreed faster… and… you’ll always receive more intelligent, more helpful, more constructive and thoughtful feedback too.
Want to discuss further? Head over to the logo geek community to start a conversation.
Want to listen to this post instead? Check out the audio below, an episode of the logo geek podcast.